TSN Golf Analyst Bob Weeks looks at the contenders to win the season’s final major.
The obvious picks
Jason Day – With two wins and 11 top-25 finishes this year, Day has enjoyed a solid season that shows no signs of letting up. The key to his strong play has been on the greens where he leads the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting. He’s a perfect 300 for 300 in putts from inside three feet and has just 17 three-putts in 900 holes of golf. On the big greens at Bellerive, putting should be at a premium.
Dustin Johnson – He’s the No. 1 player in the world and keeps getting better. After his third win of the year at the RBC Canadian Open, Johnson went 66-64 to finish tied for third in Akron. In his last six starts, Johnson has gone T8, win, third, missed cut, win, T3. On a long, soft golf course, he should shine off the tee and if his putter is even lukewarm, he should continue to be near the top of the leaderboard.
Rory McIlroy – Nobody seems to play better on wet, soggy golf courses than McIlroy, who won the U.S. Open at a boggy Congressional. With Bellerive saturated by pre-tournament rain, he should like it. McIlroy tied for fifth at the Masters and was tied for second at the Open Championship but missed the cut at Shinnecock.
The next level
Tony Finau – Perhaps best known for his ankle-popping hole-in-one celebration at the Masters, Finau has posted top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors. He has monster length off the tee, which should help him get it around a wet and long Bellerive. Despite only playing in 10 majors prior to this week and only logging one career win of any kind, his game seems fit for the big stage.
Tommy Fleetwood – He came close at Shinnecock and he’s been inside the top 15 in each of his last five starts. He has the fourth best scoring average on the PGA Tour and statistically one of the best all-around games. He’s becoming comfortable when his name is high up on the leaderboards in big events.
Rickie Fowler – Many believe Fowler is the best player never to have won a major. He has come close with eight top-five finishes in the big four, including a runner-up performance in this year’s Masters. Since missing the cut at The Players, Fowler has posted five top-20 finishes in six starts, including a tie for 17th last week in Akron.
Under the radar
Thorbjorn Olesen – The Great Dane has been in the top 12 in five of his last seven starts, including a win at the Italian Open and a tie for third at last week’s WGC – Bridgestone. He also finished tied for 12th at the Open Championship. While he’s not the longest hitter, he hits a lot of greens and is one of the best putters on the European Tour. If he can ride his current hot streak onto Bellerive he may surprise a few people.
Marc Leishman – One of the most underrated players in the game, Leishman has enjoyed a solid yet not necessarily spectacular season so far. He was ninth at the Masters and has two runner-up finishes on his performance sheet. Coming off a tie for 14th at the WGC – Bridgestone, he tied for 13th at last year’s PGA.
Xander Schauffele – A tie for second at the Open Championship last month came after a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open in June and a tie for second at the Players in May. Schauffele clearly plays well in big events so he should fit right in at Bellerive this week.